“You’re Next” is a gory slasher movie in which a cast populated by real-life indie directors gets shot with arrows, stabbed with screwdrivers, garroted with piano wire and beaten to a pulp.
The script is by Simon Barrett, who’s been an actor and filmmaker, too; it’s safe to assume most of the guest stars appear here as a lark or a favor to director Adam Wingard. All in good fun, I guess.
The horror show begins with a well-staged “Scream”-style murder, then skips ahead to a country estate where a millionaire couple prepare to welcome their four grown children, and partners, for a weekend.
Their kids are a bit of a mess — a failed academic, a manipulative success story, a frantic daddy’s girl, a sullen cynic — and the very first family dinner soon goes to pieces.
Then, one by one, the guests go to pieces too, as a small army of masked men with crossbows and machetes begins slicing and dicing them up.
Although there’s a twist in this tale, most of it is stuff we’ve seen before. And Wingard doesn’t think of a new way to show it. The gimmick casting never goes beyond an inside joke, but Wingard is smart enough to bring back some true B-movie royalty, Barbara Crampton, to play the high-strung mother. Genre fans will remember her as the victim of all sorts of devilish debauchery in “The Re-Animator” and “From Beyond”; to see her playing a stiffly stylish society matron here is a treat.
He also smartly casts, as the most sympathetic character, the Aussie actress Sharni Vinson, who turns out to be the family’s best weapon against the fiends, as she quickly improvises implements of home protection to fight back.
At the end, though, this is nothing more than a simpler version of “The Purge” (or less sleazy “Last House on the Left”): a story about horrible monsters who can only be fought when their victims turn just as vilely monstrous.